But the fruit of the spirit is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.
Love is patient , love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, it is not proud. Love is not rude or selfish, it does not get upset with others. Love doesn’t hold a grudge. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, hopes and endures.
Some people may not realize that Scott and I have chosen not to spank our children, or take a punitive discipline approach with them.
Many may wonder, how can you expect your child to learn anything without punishing them?
I wondered myself.
When I first realized there was a need for me to change my parenting strategy I had no idea what else I might do. I was raised in a family that used punitive discipline methods.
( my parents are loving wonderful people I respect greatly. They, especially my mother, have gotten me through numerous difficult times with my mental health and they are still my life line to this day.)
Everyone else I knew parented the same way. So I prayed and searched the Internet and the Lord showed me “ Gentle Parenting”
Please do not imagine a happy gently spoken perfectly calm parent who, somehow, manages to never be unkind. Also don’t imagine children who do as they please and their parents don’t correct them.
Gentle parenting has been as much about, reparenting myself as it is about change how I disciplined my kids.
When Baron my oldest was a toddler I parented from a place of control. I had read some very damaging advice that said “ you must win every time and win decisively” so I set about breaking the spirit of my 2 year old and making sure he knew who was the boss at all times. There was no compassion or understanding for my child, only punishment and consequences. The result was a very angry little boy who threw most amazing temper tantrums.
I’m delighted to report that since I stopped ( mostly, because I’m human and I make mistakes ☹️) spanking the kids, their behaviour is no worse then it was before. Lol
The Bible has so much to say about, love, compassion, mercy and grace, yet many Christians seem to treat their children in the opposite way.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Matt 7:12
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
They say, charity begins at home. If we are to treat strangers in this manner, how much more our own children.
Gentle parenting changed my focus from controlling my children at all times, to letting go of that control. It isn’t my goal anymore. I cannot control my children any way. And I was really angry and stressed out trying to. Instead my focus has shifted to leading by example and treating my children with the same courtesy and respect I would an adult.
Consequences are still there, but are either natural or logical.
Example: imposed consequences “ you hit your bother, you have to clean your room” ( one has nothing to do with the other)
Natural consequences “ you hit your brother, he no longer wants to be around you”
Logical consequences “ you hit your brother, I am going to remove you from the room so you can calm down”
Teaching has become my focus rather then compliance. And because I want my kids to follow my example, there is a higher standard I must apply to myself. Which is extremely humbling I can tell you.
I grew up with the impression, you have a bad temper and you can’t do anything about it.
Or being wrong is undesirable so you should never apologize. ( my parents encourage me to apologize but I drew the above conclusion) Or, might is right.
Needless to say that all needed to change. I’ve become an old hand at apologizing to my children, and in to process I’ve showed them how to do it too. I’ve had to learn to control my temper and it’s given me the chance to show the kids some coping skills. I’ve also come to see that my kids are not robots and they have feelings and opinions too.
I was used to the thought that kids feelings didn’t matter, you were just supposed to obey.
But aren’t you? The bible says “ Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” Eph 6:1
Yes, it does say that, but something most people miss is who the command is directed at…Children, this is not the parents responsibility. It’s directed to Christian children, no where does it say the parent should force the child to obey.
That is not to say I allow my children to do as they please. I am the grown up, I have their best interest in my heart and I do set the best example I can. Children do well with limits, and sometimes you do have to do things you don’t want to.
Like going to the doctor. But the way you approach it can make a world of difference ( not that you can control your child’s reaction to going)
Example “ we are going to the doctor, deal with it. It’s no big deal stop whining”
Vs “ we do have to see the doctor. I understand you don’t want to go, it’s ok to be nervous. Remember I’m here to help you.”
Same outcome, just a much more thoughtful and gentle approach.
Now we can continue on that vein, the child decides not to co- operate. Instead of yelling and threatening you proceed in the same calm but firm manner. “ are you going to put on your shoes or will I? Ok I will. Can you get in the car or do you need help? Ok, I will help you get into the car. I’m sorry your having such a hard time with going. Do you want to tell me what’s going on.?” Still the same out come, but approached with respect. No yelling, or unkindness, no threats needed. Isn’t amazing how perfectly one can parent on paper lol.
And there are lots of times when your children’s wishes can be respected. You don’t want to go shopping, sure stay home with dad. You don’t like plaid? Ok no more plaid shirts for you. You want to play with LOL dolls but you’re a boy? Sure! All of these are examples that I want to impose my will on them, but why bother? They have their own likes and dislikes, why not show them the same respect we expect from them?
I want to be clear, these are the ideal examples and outcomes. The reality is much more human. But making your goals a respectful and gentle demeanour, goes along way to establishing a relationship with your children that will last. Who do you go to for advice? The person who makes fun of you, brushes your feelings aside or yells at you for your mistakes? Or the person who listens, doesn’t judge and offers useful options that will help for the next time. A phrase I often use is “ what can we do differently next time?” This gives them the chance to think about it themselves, and if they can’t come up with an answer I offer a suggestion.
Parenting is a long game, your children are changing and growing some much in the first 18 years. Their brain isn’t even fully formed until their late teens or early 20’s. That’s why teens do things that make the rest of us scratch our heads. Small children may understand our words, but they lack the impulse control to obey 100% of the time. And frankly who wants to be told what to do all the time anyway. I found doing some reading on children’s normal development helped me have more realistic expectations for my kids. And that relieved a lot of stress because I knew their behaviour was perfectly normal.
Overall I have found a massive change in my own behaviour and outlook. Gentle parenting continues to change and grow me as a person as much or more as it affects my children. Honestly it’s exhausting at times because I’m still working on my own undesirable behaviours as well as trying to keep ahead of three kids.
It reminds me of an old song “there really ought to be a sign upon my heart, don’t judge me yet there’s an unfinished part. But I’ll be perfect just according to his plan, fashioned by the masters loving hand. he’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the moon and starts, the sun and the earth, Jupiter and mars. How loving and patience he must be, he’s still working on me”